So, you've got a podcast.

You're updating regularly.

People are listening.

How're you doing? Are you on the right track? Are you growing at the speed you should?

If you're spending your nights tossing and turning over whether your show is growing, frantically Googling for how many downloads should you have at the three month mark, or staring at the ceiling wondering what success even really means, man–stop.

Take a deep breath.

Bookmark this article, close your eyes, and read it in the morning.

Worrying about whether or not you are on the right track with your podcast is normal. Wanting to know exactly what makes a podcast is successful is normal. But in order to avoid analysis paralysis, we tell beginner podcasters to focus on smaller, more personal metrics. By celebrating reaching your first ten episodes or getting your first piece of fan mail, chances are you'll see that your podcast as more successful than you might think! Podcast benchmarking and taking the time to celebrate small successes is just as important as acknowledging failures.

So what should you be focusing as you start your podcast? A few great metrics are below.

Your First 500 Downloads

There are over 630,000 podcasts available for download. If your podcast has reached 500 downloads, that means that 500 people found your podcast among the thousands of other options and thought it worthy of downloading and checking out. While it is difficult to determine exactly how many people have actually listened to your podcast, this metric is important because the number of unique downloads you receive is the closest indicator to how many listeners make up your audience.

It can be tempting to compare your podcast with those that receive thousands of downloads regularly, but it's important to acknowledge that reaching 500 downloads is a huge sign of success. The top 10% of podcasts receive around 3,400 downloads per episode. While this is a great goal to aim toward, don't discourage yourself by expecting to get to it straight out of the gate.

Think about what it would feel like to give a talk that 500 people sat in a room to hear–pretty cool, right? Now go grab a cupcake.

Your First Positive Review

Look, everybody loves compliments. A positive review is just a compliment that a complete stranger (or, maybe not! Definitely ask your friends and family to review your show!) took the time to write out in a public forum after hearing you talk for an hour. Pretty rad!

More than being just a straight shot of dopamine to the brain, positive reviews let you know that your show is doing all the things you hoped it would, whether that's entertaining, encouraging, or enlightening someone. A positive review is like an endorsement or free advertising. When someone leaves the first positive review of your podcast, it's a definitely benchmark worth celebrating.

Moving forward, make a plan to acknowledge when you reach your first fifty positive reviews, and then your first one hundred, and so on. Never forget that your audience feedback is one of the most important metrics you can keep track of as a podcaster!

Your First Ten Episodes

Real talk, your first ten episodes can make or break your desire to podcast. Approximately 80% of podcasts do not make it past the first ten episodes. So when you make it to this benchmark, it is cause for celebration–you're in the top 20%!

Instead of comparing your podcast with those that boast hundreds or thousands of episodes, take joy in the fact that your podcast has a future, and that it outlived many other podcasts that could not reach this benchmark. Again, once you reach this goal, make sure you plan to celebrate once you release your first 25 episodes, and your first 50 episodes, and so forth, so that you don't lose sight of just how much you are accomplishing with your podcast.

Your First Sponsor

Sponsors have only a couple goals in mind: increasing brand awareness and selling their product or service. If your podcast gets to the point where a company would like to be a sponsor, it means that company believes you and your podcast are successful enough to help them accomplish these goals. A company is basically telling you that you'd make an excellent temporary spokesperson–and that's really cool! Make sure to congratulate your team when you receive your first sponsor and keep up the good work.

For help measuring and reaching these podcasting benchmarks, drop us a line! Simplecast can help you publish and distribute your podcast while providing listener analytics you can use to track and celebrate success.